06/30/2005 11:00PM

Americans pose big challenge


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - American shippers Silver Tree and Golden Commander figure to give the locals all they can handle in Sunday's $331,800 King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap at Woodbine.

Silver Tree, who is based at Saratoga with trainer Bill Mott, closed to finish third in his lone outing this year, in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita Jan. 29. He captured the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at the Spa nearly a year ago and has earned a Beyer Speed Figure of at least 99 in each of his last eight starts.

Silver Tree won the $500,000 Virginia Derby in 2003 and was beaten just three lengths when fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star last October.

"He's been working well," said Mott. "It's a decent distance for him. He's won going as far as a mile and a quarter, but a mile and an eighth is satisfactory for him."

Golden Commander ran the race of his life six weeks ago at Belmont, taking the 1 1/8-mile Kingston Handicap for New York-breds by four lengths, in a course record 1:45.35. He got a 105 Beyer for that breakout performance.

Phil Serpe trains Golden Commander, who also won 2004 West Point Handicap at Saratoga.

Mobil, the reigning champion older runner in Canada, will change surfaces in the Grade 2 King Edward. The runner-up in the 2003 Queen's Plate, Mobil has stuck to the main track since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Atto Mile in September.

In his first start this year, Mobil closed strongly on the outside to be second in the Vigil Handicap. Most recently, in the 1 1/16-mile Eclipse Handicap, he never fired after running well off a tepid pace.

Trainer Mike Keogh said Mobil injured his foot coming out of the gate in the Grade 3 Eclipse.

"He stumbled and grabbed his quarter very badly," Keogh said. "He did the same thing in the Queen's Plate, and he's done it quite a few times on the dirt. We've been fighting [the problem] ever since. The spot has weakened, and it could become a quarter crack. We patched it and we've carried on, hoping for the best."